As athletic as former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is, his change-of-direction skills have yet to be judged by NFL scouts in a workout setting, and one former NFL general manager says that they're questionable on game film.
Phil Savage, the former Cleveland Browns general manager who now is executive director of the Reese's Senior Bowl, didn't like what he saw from Clowney's 2013 film in that regard. And Clowney's blazing 4.53 40-yard dash can't make up for the sort of agility Savage is looking for.
"I think every personnel evaluator in the building expected Jadeveon Clowney to run fast in a straight line and jump high in the vertical, and that's exactly what he did (at the combine)," Savage said in his review of combine-invited defensive linemen. "The question on Jadeveon Clowney in a nutshell is how much lateral change of direction does he have in space? Because there are films from this past year where he missed sacks when the quarterback moved and escaped on him."
Quarterbacks who step up in the pocket with good timing can cause fits for defensive ends who prefer to speed rush over the top of the pocket, as Clowney often does. While Clowney ran the fastest 40-yard dash among defensive linemen at the combine, his three-cone drill time, which measures change-of-direction skills, ranked just 12th at 7.27 seconds.
Savage also questioned why Clowney didn't participate in every drill at the combine.
"Will he finish? He did not finish the entire combine, so now he's going to work out April 2," Savage said. "He's spectacular in certain aspects of this pre-draft evaluation, but there are other aspects that are question marks."
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.